To look at her, 74-year-old Barbara Marder is the picture of health. She plays golf, loves to swim, snorkel, and kayak. She has traveled extensively to Africa, South America, China, Japan and Spain. Closer to home, she regularly visits national parks throughout the country. She’s involved in theatre groups, her church, book club and bridge club. Barbara is also a lung cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2012.
In early 2012, Barbara visited her a pulmonologist after five months of respiratory infections that didn’t respond to treatment. A biopsy revealed a cancerous growth on the lower lobe of the right lung. The tumor and surrounding lymph nodes were quickly removed, and all margins appeared clear. She elected to have a round of chemotherapy as a preventative measure.
A follow-up CT scan eighteen months later showed a small, tumorous growth on Barbara’s left lung. She met with an oncologist who suggested alternative treatment, including a clinical trial. Barbara decided to enroll in a clinical trial for Nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug. Immunotherapy drugs work by using the body’s own immune system to attack and fight the cancer. Within six months, Barbara’s cancer was in deep retreat. Within a year of starting twice-a-week infusions, there was no longer any sign of the disease.
Barbara continues to work with her oncologist and receives periodic CT scans, bloodwork, and twice-weekly infusions. She will continue on the clinical trial for as long as possible: either the end of the clinical trial or until the drug stops working.
Barbara spent her career teaching drama and performing arts, in addition to raising two children with her late husband. Barbara donated a kidney to her husband in 1997. She has two grandchildren and lives near Annapolis, Maryland.